Bills are the proposals yet to become laws, and they are important since they offer an opportunity for the deliberations that lead to its adjustment so that they could meet the objectives of concerned individuals. The issue of medical marijuana in California has been contentious, and the state has amended legislations that have denied the qualified patients and their caregiver the opportunity of cultivation and possession of medical marijuana. The bill seeks to correct the assertion made in the previous legislation that prohibits the influential members of society from using marijuana. The local government had also suffered from the loss of control of the cultivation of marijuana, but the bill aims to ensure they take monitoring of farming in their police role so that they could safeguard the public health of citizens. The researcher intends to conduct an online research to analyze the marijuana bill about public health. The work will involve an overview of the health problem, the severity of the health issue, a summary of the bill and stakeholders, expected health outcomes, the issues of opposition, unintended consequences of the law, and recommendations.
Keywords: medical marijuana, public health
Marijuana Bill #21
Public health is a concept that has been in existence for the longest time, and it refers to the system that helps in the preservation of good health of the general public by ensuring the prevailing conditions that promote the social interest that is satisfactory to society. These conditions include political, environmental, social, medical care and economic factors (Turnock, 2016). Public health departments in any jurisdiction assure the access of public to healthcare for all, and this gives these units the functions of assessment, development of policies, and assurance. In the recent past, there has been a controversy over the issue of marijuana, especially on the cultivation and possession legislation, forcing the state of California to prepare a bill that seeks to put greater restriction on the cultivation and use of medical marijuana. It says that some individuals are exempted from acquiring the permit for the cultivation of marihuana from the local government, and this bill aims to correct assertions that prohibit possession and cultivation of the substance by qualified patients (California Legislative Information, 2016). This essay seeks to discuss the marijuana bill in relation to public health. and it will cover the change of regulation in the cultivation of medical marijuana in the state of California.
Overview of the Health Problem
The problem that the bill aims to rectify is to correct the errors made in the previous
Medical Marijuana Regulation Safety Act (MMRSA) The bill seeks to delete the earlier assertion done to make the Department of Food and Agriculture the sole authority in the licensing of medical marijuana cultivation. It also applies to the county or city that lacks land use laws or prohibits marijuana cultivation either under zoning principles or denies the conditional permit about the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act (Angela, 2016). It also clarifies to the caregivers and the qualified patients in pursuit of the cultivation of medical marijuana. It states that the exemption does not prevent a county or a city from its police authority under the California Constitution. It also says that the bill is urgent, and it needs to be effected quickly so that it could start protecting the citizens’ health earlier since it is the role of the local government to safeguard the health of the public.
The severity of the problem is that if the act were to remain as it is, the local authorities would not have full control of the cultivation of medical marijuana as in the other medical marijuana categories. This would create room for the qualified patients together with their caregivers to be denied their medical marijuana (Angela, 2016). The law also seeks to create a pathway for the business of medical marijuana in a way that it complies with the legislation of the state and promotes the protection of consumers. Thus, the qualified patients and their caregivers are the people affected by the law while there is a total of 12 groups (Anton, 2016) affected by the bill.
Severity of Health Problems
The gravity of the problem is that the existing legislation seeks to prevent caregivers and their qualified patients from utilizing their right for the use and possession of medical marijuana, and this would be catastrophic to most patients. Moreover, the city and the county will not have the full control of medical marijuana as they have control over other categories in medical marijuana. There is a consensus among the researchers since all the parties support the motion (Anton, 2016). For instance, in its support for the bill, the American Civil Liberties Union of California alluded to the fact that correction of the act would enable the county and cities to have control over medical marijuana just in the same way they have control in other categories of medical marijuana. It continues to state that it is to the interest of the caregivers and the patients for the bill to be deliberated on since the local government ponders on the meaningful way to enhance possession and cultivation of medical marijuana by caregivers and qualified patients. Without intervention into the previous law, caregivers and the patients eligible for medical marijuana would be prohibited from cultivating or possessing the product, and this will put the patients in a catastrophic situation. The law would also fail to give the local authority full control of the cultivation of medical marijuana as they already have control over other categories of medical marijuana.
Overview of the Bill and Stakeholders
The speaker views the bill as being appropriate in the sense that it will get rid of the circumstances, in which the local government is denied the opportunity to have control over the cultivation of medical marijuana so that it could cater for unique circumstances. The law has outlawed the use of marijuana for other purposes other than medical ones, and this means that the control of cultivation act by the local government just like the other categories will enable the patients using marijuana for medical reasons to continue doing so without being inconvenienced. The stakeholders are also of the opinion that business persons will be allowed to cultivate marijuana under the guidelines stipulated in the California constitution (Angela, 2016). This will help the local government keep control of their activities to ensure that patients are protected in their access to the substance with ease.
Among the stakeholders involved are the business people who feel that the law should be able to allow them to continue with the efforts of availing marijuana to the patients for medical use, and with the previous law, it would be illegal for them to cultivate it. The other stakeholders that have been affected by the bill are the patients and caregivers who would have been deprived of their essential medicine since they could not be able to possess or cultivate marijuana. Another stakeholder is the local government whose control of the cultivation of marijuana in the previous context was in a position to ban its cultivation in their area of jurisdiction, but the bill seeks to put some exceptions (California Legislative Information, 2016). These exemptions will enable the qualified patients together with their caregivers to have a right of possession and cultivation of medical marijuana in the stipulated proportions.
Expected Health Outcomes
The bill is supposed to help in the promotion of health and sanity in the state of California. With the local government being mandated to carry out its policing role to prevent the cultivation of marijuana by wrong people while also prohibiting the selling of the substance by patients and caregivers, the drug will not find its way to the rest of the public (National Institute on Drug Use, 2016). This restriction will prevent the public from suffering memory loss and impaired judgment that may lead to antisocial behaviors such as rape. The bill will also seek the guidance of Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research in the formulation and setting of the best ways of administration of marijuana to patients. This will ensure that patients are well advised to avoid a situation, in which they will continue to use the drug even after the dosage is complete. The bill also provides that health practitioners do not authorize licensing of marijuana use to a patient for the financial benefits to him/herself or his/her family. This will ensure that even health practitioners do not use their position to abuse the drug or sell it to others who are not qualified (California Legislative Information, 2016). The bill also seeks to avail marijuana for medical purposes to the qualified individuals so that they could be healthy.
Problems of Opposition
The groups opposed to the bill are the business investors who have felt that the cultivation of marijuana could have been prohibited among caregivers and patients so that they could have an advantage of earning some income. Thus, business people hope that the bill will not pass so that they could have control of the substance on the market. In the current situation, they are the greatest beneficiaries since they supply the material to the qualified patients, though at an affordable price. It means that with time provided that the bill will not pass, they will have the liberty of fixing their prices as the market dictates them (Bonta et al., 2016). There is also the Department of Food and Agriculture that feels it will be demoted from the position it has been elevated to be the sole authority that issues cultivation permits to the qualified patients and their caregivers. It was also argued that the bill should have also exempted cooperatives from prosecution under the guidelines from the attorney general while in possession of medical marijuana for commerce as the employee or the officers received compensation for the expenses experienced during compliance. There was also an argument to enact a body named Medical Marijuana Regulation and Control Act that would be mandated to control and enforce the cultivation of the substance in the state (Bonta et al., 2016). In this case, the local authority will only have to issue the license.
Unintended Consequences of the Bill
Laws are always made, but no matter how good a code is, it will always leave some loopholes that the public would utilize in violating that law unnoticed. The passage of the bill will lead to other unforeseen issues. Just like in the past, more patients will seek to get the qualification for the use of marijuana for medical purposes in minor illnesses (California Legislative Information, 2016). This will be a pretext for those individuals to abuse the drug but with the permission from the relevant authority, and the courts will end up ruling for the patient. Another thing that will probably happen is the fact that the local government will not be in a position to monitor all marijuana cultivations, and this will lead to the increased access to the substance by the citizens who will abuse it and later cause social disorder (National Institute Drug Use, 2016). These negative effects of the substance can lead to low productivity in society.
Political influence is present any society, and this will be the opportunity for the few licensed private cultivators to add the acreage authorized with the aim of making money from the substance. It will be hard to track those concerned because they will have protection from those in political office. Matters of health are personal, and anyone who wants to use marijuana will fake an illness that will make him/her qualified for medical marijuana use. Therefore, marijuana will end up being consumed by a higher number of citizens than the bill targets (California Legislative Information, 2016). The bill does not protect the patients from having marijuana in their houses, and this means that even family members, including children, can get access to the substance and abuse it while in the house. Furthermore, medical practitioners are also human, and there are those who will violate their code of ethics and recommend a patient to use medical marijuana for the reasons other than medical ones.
There are some recommendations I would like to propose to the bill, with the first being prohibition of using medical marijuana in public places. The inhalation of smoke by passive smokers can be harmful in some ways, and it should be avoided. The patients qualified for the use of medical marijuana ought to be cautioned against the utilization of the substance in public places so that they did not infringe on other people's rights (California Legislative Information, 2016). The second recommendation I would put across is the need for the patients to ensure that they do not use the substance in the presence of other family members as this would lead to some of them developing an addiction for the content and therefore, create a social problem in the home setup. Thirdly, the means, by which the medical marijuana is taken, should be controlled, depending on the nature of surrounding. This means that nonsmoking means should be advocated during the time the patient is in a social place while smoking marijuana can be allowed strictly in seclusion. This will make sure that the public is not exposed to marijuana to a point where it will become too common, and therefore, the public will find ways of acquiring it either legally or illegally.
The fourth recommendation would be to propose that the permits for the cultivation of medical marijuana be prohibited from business investors (Angela, 2016). By giving rights to investors to handle the growing of the marijuana, they will find ways of taking the substance to the market to gain profit, and this will aid the widespread use of the material in the state in the long run. Finally, the bill should articulate the specific physicians who would be allowed to permit patients to use medical marijuana(California Legislative Information, 2016). Since some doctors may take this opportunity to use marijuana for their personal pleasure, they should as well be restricted in getting the substance either from the caregiver or the patient.
In summary, the use of medical marijuana is a challenge to society since the substance, if abused, will cause moral decay among society members while the deprivation of it in totality will lead to greater loss of life to those who depend on it as their medication. The bill on the cultivation of medical marijuana is a great achievement in the state of California and it should be embraced. The problem that has caused the issue is the prohibition of patients and their caregivers to cultivate or possess medical marijuana while they depend on it as a medication. Most stakeholders proposed the amendment to the bill, promising that it would allow those permitted to cultivate and possess the substance do so without fear of prosecution. The unintended outcome of the bill would be access to the drug by the rest of the public, and this can lead to severe social disorder since its use by non-patients may lead to impaired judgment. It would be recommended that the bill includes other sections that prohibit the use of the substance, including smoking in public places.